Tuesday, January 29, 2013

US MNT vs. Canada

Super Bowl? Ray Lewis sprayed moose smack onto his gums? Alex Rodriguez freebased whale testosterone? Screw it, let's talk soccer.

Tonight the US Men's National Team played the Canadian side in a friendly* international game in Houston.  This is the final warmup for the US team before qualifiers begin for the 2014 World Cup, in February.

Some observations:

  • I like seeing these games on ESPN2 instead of in the ghetto of Fox Soccer Channel or NBC Sports Channel or Bill and Ted's Excellent Unpopular Sports Network. Bonus: it turns out that the US has knowledgeable soccer announcers. We don't have to use Martin Tyler every time.
  • The crowd was so drunk that they couldn't quite manage to keep the "USA, USA, USA" song (to the tune of Pop Goes the World) on key or in time.
  • After losing 4-0 in a friendly to Denmark last week, Canada is obviously playing for the 0-0 draw tonight.  They came out in a 4-5-1 that may as well have been a 9-1-0. The US is totally unable to get past them.
  • This is the first time since 2007 that the US MNT started a game entirely with Major League Soccer players.  It really shows. They haven't played much together, either, and are obviously disjointed, are mis-hitting the ball, overpowering clearances, and so on. Too many guys seem like they're trying to show off for coach Jurgen Klinsman instead of trying to help win the game.
  • The US goalkeeper, Sean Johnson, is getting practically no work except on Dwayne DeRosario counterattacks.
  • God, how I hate that soccer fans hurl streamers onto the field during play.
  • January in Houston: Hell? Or the Abyss?
  • The announcers just commented on how the US attack was unable to penetrate the Canadian defense, and my wife exclaimed, "Yes! They're flaccid! That's the problem!"
  • Eddie Johnson looks slower than I'm used to seeing.
  • Sub Joshua Gatt is trying to dribble through everybody, and falling down when he fails to do so.
  • I love when Graham Zusi plays for the MNT, because he doesn't consistently do well, and any time he screws up, I get to holler, "ZUSI! YOU GOT SOME SPLAINING TO DO!"
  • Juan Agudelo spent a lot of time looking for a missing contact lens, or something, on the ground just outside the Canadian 18-yard box. Sometimes it appeared that a Canadian player bumped him just before the crawling and wailing, but at other times there was nothing of the sort.
  • The Canadians had to sub out their center back, which tells you precisely the game they're playing.
  • A few Americans looked OK: Brad Chris Wondolowski, Brad Davis, and Kyle Beckerman. Not surprisingly, these are the guys who have played with the national team before.
  • Final score 0-0. I guess this was better than watching the Islanders smear the Penguins. Marginally.

* in soccer parlance, a friendly is a real, full-speed game that doesn't count in standings or toward a tournament results
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